Nokia Will Not Come Back To MeeGo Even If N9 Becomes A Huge Hit, Says Elop

One would have expected that Elop would change his mind after the reception the N9 has received the world over, including those who have had a love-hate relationship in the past with the Finnish giant. Turns out to be otherwise, and this soon.

Although the N9 doesn’t run a pure form of MeeGo, it’s still a MeeGo device, nonetheless. It runs Nokia’s custom skin over the stock MeeGo OS, and it’s not open source. You could compare it to Samsung’s, HTC’s or other Android manufacturers skinned devices – Samsung’s Touchwiz, HTC’s Sense UI and the likes..

Elop

It looks like Elop is committed to make Windows Phone a success, even if that means failing of a massively good looking, uber user friendly device, the N9. Well, it makes a lot of business sense. Nokia has reiterated time and again that Windows Phone will be their primary OS and MeeGo will be an “experiment”. Going by that, it’s only logical that Nokia pushes Windows Phone and not MeeGo. But then, it is surprising that when Nokia had a truly “disrupting” OS at it’s hands, why in this good world did it have to go the Windows Phone way at all? By doing so, it may have got itself some short-term benefits (monetary support from Microsoft), but over the long run, it’s going to be difficult for the Finnish company if it wants to pull out of the partnership. Very, very difficult, given the history of Microsoft’s earlier partnerships.

The other day, I showed certain slides of the Harmattan MeeGo powered N9 and some Windows Phone devices to my ‘not-at-all-geeky’ friends and some cousins. Quite unsurprisingly, they’d all liked the N9 a lot more than the Windows Phones, both UI wise and the overall hardware design. The N9 is a pinnacle of Nokia’s capabilities (at the moment), and it shows the pride that the in-house devs take in creating a “future-disruption”. The Swipe UI blew away whomsoever saw those slides (remember I’d shown it to some friends of mine) and they would rather take this than the Metro UI (no, I like it, and it is quite novel, but I don’t quite feel the same after seeing the N9).

Also noteworthy is that a couple of those friends were using iPhone for the past 2 years, and I can classify them as fanboys. And these two guys liked the Swipe UI so much so that they are ready to ditch their iPhone 4 for the N9. I guess it’d be pretty clear by now how good the whole damn thing is.

The only concern that I have is, apart from the N9 being treated as a bastard child, the apps and the ecosystem around it. While it’s all Qt dependent, it’s the motivation of the developers that makes a huge difference. Qt dependent as in, devs who have written apps in Qt for Symbian devices can port the same apps very easily to the Harmattan MeeGo powered N9 (I want to stress on Harmattan here), with slight modifications here and there. For example, Jan Ole Suhr, one of the most popular Symbian developers out there (creator of Gravity), and one who was quite hesitant to port his app, Gravity, to Qt, was contemplating on developing an altogether new app for N9. It took him a lot of constant persuasion, and the brilliance of the N9 UI, to get him to at least think about doing so. What he decides is another matter, but the very fact that he thought so is intriguing. Not because I love Gravity, and by default, I’d look forward with interest what he thinks, but because he was not so interested in Qt and MeeGo until the N9. Another example of the device’s brilliance (it has not even come out yet, so yeah), and another reason to doubt Nokia’s and Elop’s decision to keep the future of N9 and Harmattan MeeGo hanging in balance, and by extension, Nokia’s own.

Also, I have come to doubt Elop’s decision to leak the video of his briefing his employees, giving them a lecture on how/what and why the company is doing what it is doing. Add to it the leaked N9 lookalike running Windows Phone. And then, this interview in a Finnish newspaper. Every single act mentioned above only makes me think he wants to scuttle the N9 to death even before it comes to the markets. Also note that major countries like US (where Nokia wants to make inroads), UK and India (where people still ditch other brands for Nokia just because of the name, and where it now faces multi-faceted challenges). I’ve read somewhere it’s got to do with some legal stuff, but heck, that is not my problem. If the company wishes to make a product successful, it has to put it’s best foot forward and not be reluctant. In this case, it’s quite opposite.

Clearly, a short-sighted strategy. And a case of priorities. But that’s from a point of view of MeeGo (and general business sense. I’d have rather pushed MeeGo, and not go the Windows Phone way at all, if the N9 is what I had with me). And Nokia will be losing out on the freedom it can have with MeeGo, besides Ovi Maps (the best maps on a phone) and it’s superior capabilities with the Camera optics.

If you think from the point of view of Microsoft and Windows Phone, it’s genius.

But then we love the N9 already, don’t we? And my little sense of business doesn’t let me accept what Elop and Nokia is doing. Do you? What do you think Nokia could or should have done? I’m all ears.

PS: I may have criticized the decision to go Windows Phone, but it does not mean I do not like it. Perhaps the third best looking OS, after MeeGo Harmattan and webOS. 😉